Photo by Leo Reynolds |

As I sat at my computer today, I received an instant Spark message from a colleague of mine who sits no more than 15 feet from my desk. Her inquiry, ironically was, “Do you have time to talk?”

I started to “spark” my colleague back, but stopped myself. Instead, I got up out of my chair and went and talked face-to-face with her. It didn’t take any longer than an IM reply, but it certainly felt better.

This interaction caused me to start thinking about how often we in the communications business tend to communicate so impersonally these days. I don’t want to give away my age, but when I started in the PR business, we talked with each other, not at each other.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I understand the value of a quick email to get a simple message across. However, nothing, in my opinion beats a personal conversation – whether it be on the phone or face-to-face.

When you’re talking with someone, it’s rare that you misinterpret their tone or their meaning.  It’s quite the contrary, actually.  You’re able to ask questions in response and get a real feel for where someone is coming from or going with their thought process – without having to hit the send button and wait for a reply.

Perhaps I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings Author Maya Angelou said it best: “Words mean more than what is set down on paper. It takes the human voice to infuse them with shades of deeper meaning.”

Ultimately, I guess what I’m talking about is building relationships. You can’t have a relationship with someone that you don’t know and you can’t get to know someone without talking with them.

So, the next time you’re getting ready to hit the send button on that email, think twice. Ask yourself what the most effective form of communication is and whether picking up the phone might not be the better way to go.

That’s my opinion, what’s yours? Tell me what you think is the best way to have a personal conversation!

Michelle Zdrodowski is a senior vice president at Franco Public Relations Group. Reach out to her at or call 313.567.5017. Visit

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